Drugs and sports clubs

Drugs can alter the way the body and brain works. Certain drugs are legal and others are illegal. There is no safe level of drug use and use of any drug always carries some risk.

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Drugs and your club - the big picture

Drugs are substances that can alter a person’s mental or physical state. They can affect the way your brain works, how you feel and behave, your understanding of your surroundings and your senses.

Young people can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of drugs, as the brain isn’t fully developed until the age 25.

Why do people take drugs

There is no single reason why a person will decide to use drugs. It is important to understand that there are a number of different motivators behind this decision. Recognising this can better equip you and your club to have these conversations. Common reasons include:

  • curiosity
  • to fit in socially with peers or friends
  • to experience the pleasurable effects - for example, feeling excited and energetic, or relaxed and calm
  • to help cope with difficult situations - for example, reducing emotional pain or relieving stress and anxiety
  • as a response to mental or physical trauma
  • for medical purposes – e.g. painkillers or medication to help you sleep.

Legal drugs

Some drugs – such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine – are legal. As are many different types of prescription/over the counter medications, such as codeine, benzodiazepines or ibuprofen.

Most legal drugs still come with some restrictions. For example, smoking in public is strictly controlled, purchasing alcohol is not permitted for those under the age of 18 and certain medications can only be obtained through a doctor’s prescription.

The active ingredients in legal drugs can also be regulated and controlled. For example, alcohol content in drinks, the milligrams of nicotine in cigarettes, and the amount of caffeine in energy drinks.

Illegal drugs

Drugs such as crystal methamphetamine (ice), ecstasy, cocaine and heroin are illegal. It is against the law to possess, use, make, import or sell drugs that are classified as such.

Because these drugs are manufactured illegally, there is no way to control how strong they are, how they are made, or what exactly they contain. A person using illegal drugs can never be completely sure of how strong the drug is, or what is actually in it.

Illicit drugs

Even legal drugs can be harmful when they are not taken the way they were intended.

Illicit drugs include:

  • illegal drugs
  • prescription medicines that have been obtained illegally or are being used in a way different than prescribed (e.g. using medication without a prescription or ongoing medical supervision)
  • other substances that can be used inappropriately - for example, performance enhancing drugs (PIEDs).

Impact of drugs in Australia

In 2018 in Australia:

  • 2,070 people died from drug-related causes
  • 1,556 were unintentional deaths
  • more people died from drug overdoses than road accidents
  • all forms of drug use cost Australia more than $100 billion in both social and economic costs.

Support is available for you, your club and your members if you need it.

How drugs can impact your club

Illegal drugs are used by many people in Australia. So, it’s likely that some members of your club will have access to them. According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (2019), more than 4 in 10 Australians had used an illicit drug at some point in their lifetime and 1 in 6 Australians had used one in the last 12 months. These figures would be comparable to rates of drug use in sporting clubs. 

Drugs can impact a sportsperson’s judgement and skills. Other effects can include:

  • reduced concentration
  • erratic behavior
  • violence and aggression
  • nonattendance at matches 
  • increased risk of accidents.  

Other common impacts of illegal drugs in sporting clubs include: 

  • bringing the club into disrepute
  • engaging in unlawful activity 
  • damage to reputation and sporting career
  • increased safety risk for other players.

Get prepared at your club

Drug use can affect any community or sporting club.

The Good Sports program give clubs free information and resources around how to prepare for drug related issues before they arise. Including a section on drugs in your policy will ensure you know what to do if there is suspected drug use or if someone is found distributing drugs at your club.

You won’t be going it alone. Good Sports’ support staff are committed to helping clubs develop a drugs policy that:

  • sets clear behaviour guidelines for members
  • spells out what to do if there is an incident
  • provide responses that are fair and appropriate
  • position the club as a safe and responsible community leader.

It’s a realistic response to a real issue.

Text the Effects

Text the Effects is a drug information service via SMS, from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation. It provides information about the effects of drugs in a confidential and accessible way, any location, any time.

Simply text the name of the drug you want to know about to:
0439 tell me (0439 835 563)